by Martina Werner
This contribution is an excerpt from:
Five Children Build a Group and Follow Their Interests. When the small group was formed and the five children could suggest topics, Malte (5;5) named the topic of rubbish. First, the topics of two other children came up, but then it was Malte’s turn as the third. He was also very committed to the other topics, but kept asking when we were finally going to the rubbish collection.
See also: Malte, 5;0 Years Old
In preparation, I talked to my brother-in-law again, and he told me about a company nearby. At the beginning of September, I met with Malte to call the company and make an appointment, or to first ask whether a visit was possible at all.
In the afternoon, when all the newly admitted children had been picked up, we went to the office and looked up the phone number in a phone book. Malte recognised the book by a small characteristic sign painted on the spine. Then he looked for the K for our town Kürten and finally the N for the Neuenhaus company.
He wrote the name on a piece of paper and I was supposed to tell him the letters. He already knew most of them, others I told him on request. I read out the telephone number and he wrote it down, he already knew the numbers. I then automatically put a slash between the area code and the actual number. He asked me what it was for. I explained to him that the same number can exist in different towns and that you therefore need an area code so that the call ends up in the right town. He asked for examples and I gave him some: 02268 for Kürten, 0221 for Cologne or 040 for Hamburg.
Since Malte had the wish with the rubbish collection, he was also allowed to call there and ask questions himself. I wanted to involve him as much as possible in his project so that his interests would really be met.
We then looked for a quiet room the next afternoon and took the phone with us. Rico (5;4) also wanted to join in. I asked Malte if he would like to talk to the people himself and what questions he had. He then had the idea that I should write down his questions so that we wouldn’t forget anything.
Those were his questions:
- When can we get there?
- Do you have waste separation?
- Do you have a very big belt for sorting?
- Where is a waste incineration plant?
- Can we see a real rubbish truck, even from the inside?
- Can we bring rubbish with us to sort?
- Is there a rubbish truck wash? (I would never have thought of this question, but it’s logical, isn’t it? After all, rubbish trucks get dirty and have to be cleaned at some point. So you never stop learning, you learn along with the children!)
The first time we called, no one had time for us. The next day we started the second attempt, Malte was very excited the whole week and kept coming to me and asking when we were going to continue. This time they were prepared at Neuenhaus and we were able to ask all the questions and make an appointment. For this, we turned on the loudspeaker on the phone so that Rico and I could listen in.
Malte then kept asking me quietly what he wanted to ask again. The man on the other end took a lot of time and answered in detail. In the process, new questions arose for Malte, which he answered immediately. Quite brave to talk to a stranger on the phone himself! He was highly concentrated during the conversation, very serious, confident and self-assured. Rico was only there for a short time and didn’t notice much of the actual conversation, he was playing.
Afterwards, Malte was very excited and calculated for me every day how many days were left until the visit.
We then asked the children of the „Rubbish Collection Squad“ who would like to come along. They were to make their own decision.
Pascal was the only one who didn’t want to come. Ever since he joined the older children in the Robber Group, he’s been against everything. He probably doesn’t have much confidence in himself at first and first has to really get used to the robbers.
The number of children was limited to 8 because of the traffic on the Neuenhaus premises. We then asked the pre-school children to join us, so that 7 children finally came along. This way, more children could benefit from the ideas and wishes of the gifted children. Actually, younger children also wanted to come along, maybe they could go to the waste incineration plant, we’ll see.
The next day, Malte came to me in the group and said he was bored. He could look for rubbish to take to the rubbish collection, I said. He was immediately hooked and we set up 4 bins in the small room (storeroom) and put signs on them, which Malte painted and labelled himself:
– Green Dot (he was already familiar with this),
– residual waste,
– plastic bottles (he had learned this on the phone).
This made the waiting time more exciting for him. He collected rubbish every day, asked all the kindergarten teachers to help, asked the cook in the kitchen and emptied the rubbish bin from the office. Every day he came and asked if I had anything else. He even tipped out my water bottle so that he finally had a plastic bottle. I was less enthusiastic about that, which I told him clearly. He also realised this and was dismayed by my reaction, after which he was even more diligent in his work. After all, you still have to set clear boundaries.
Anyway, he infected everyone and then everyone had special rubbish, like a broken globe or big boxes. Many thought of him and were open to his wishes.
Again, I wrote a letter to the parents and asked two parents to accompany me to the rubbish collection. Because of the settling-in period of the youngest children, the outing was to take place in the afternoon and only one kindergarten teacher could come along.
And then we were at the rubbish collection
First, everyone waited outside and I went with Malte to the office to register. After we had put on high-visibility waistcoats, we went to the sorting belt. Some of the girls held their noses and said: „It stinks in here!“ The boys looked around with interest and marvelled at the big machines.
Of course, we also had the rubbish that Malte had collected. After the sorting belt, we took a closer look at one of the vehicles. We were allowed to throw the paper waste in the back and watch it being crushed. Malte was the first to be allowed into the driver’s cab and could then see the children standing behind the car via a monitor.
During the whole time – the tour lasted one hour – he never left the side of the man who showed us everything. The worker devoted a lot of time to him and answered all his questions. And there were many, for Malte there were always new questions that he wanted to have answered immediately. You could literally watch him think.
Unfortunately, I hardly heard any of the questions because it was very loud, I had to pay attention to the other children and I was taking photos.
Malte asked, for example, why the car beeps when reversing. He got answers to all his questions. It must have been great for him to be taken so seriously! The next day, I gave the staff a small thank-you gift and they asked me if they should draw up an employment contract for Malte. They had never seen such an interested child who already knew so much. I told this to Malte and his father, they were both pleased and looked very proud.
From above, we watched a large container yard and got an explanation of a car tyre shredding machine that prepares granulate for sports fields. Interesting!
We went on to the big hall. Various large piles of rubbish were sorted there. Malte was then allowed to throw our collected rubbish onto the corresponding piles. He knew immediately what belonged where. The plastic bottles were pressed into bales and Malte wanted to know what happened to them.
But what everyone liked best was the big excavator, that is the rubbish grabber, as Malte immediately improved on me. He had already asked our guide that. The rubbish grabber threw the paper rubbish into a press, so that pressed bales were created there too. Malte was then allowed to pick up a single piece of cardboard, which was quite light. Then he was supposed to try to lift a pressed bale, but he couldn’t. It weighed 350 kg.
And Malte was actually allowed to get into the cabin of the waste grabber and drive up so that he could see everything from above. He was explained the levers and could even operate them. I was so touched by his beaming face that it almost brought tears to my eyes. It was a dream come true for him! I have never seen him so satisfied, highly concentrated, motivated, eager to learn… I don’t have any more words. It was great to see that!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the truck wash because it was undergoing TÜV 〈Technical Monitoring Association〉. But we did see how a lorry was washed by hand and where they were refuelled. At the end, everyone got a small dustbin with a balloon in it.
Afterwards, when we were standing in front of the site waiting for the parents, Malte complained that it was already over. There was still so much to see, he wanted to have the big truck scales explained to him, he wanted to go down to the lower site,….
And the next day he immediately asked me when we were going to the waste incineration plant. That will probably be our next appointment.
Malte´s great curiosity is not yet satisfied!
About the other children of my Group of Five:
Rico’s mother helped with the excursion and was quite fascinated by how her son behaved: He was highly motivated the whole time, he listened intently and asked questions and was not bored! He is also very interested in technology and needs a lot of „input“. He got it this time.
Naomi was the youngest on this trip, but she had her father with her. That was good, because she was afraid of the many wasps that were attracted by the rubbish. She had been stung three times the day before. You also have to take such fears into account. But she also said afterwards that she had enjoyed it.
Nora looked at everything with interest but said little else. I can’t judge what she took away from this excursion.
It’s a pity that Pascal wasn’t there. But our offers are voluntary and he didn’t want to come. He has little self-confidence when it comes to new things. There would have been motor challenges for him, such as the steep stairs to the sorting facility.
The rest of the pre-school children enjoyed it very much, and there were also children who were particularly interested in technology and vehicles. Sarah, for example, as Malte’s best friend, has been playing role-playing games with him for a long time on the topic of waste collection.
Personally, I enjoyed the excursion very much. I was pleased that the Neuenhaus employees were so serious, patient and intensive, especially with Malte. I was able to fulfil his greatest wish and since then he has been playing his role-plays on this topic even more intensively and in more detail. The other children can now understand many things better and enjoy playing along.
The next day, the kindergarten teachers of the Robbers‘ Group told me that the children had talked a lot about their excursion in the morning circle, sometimes down to the smallest detail.
I quickly printed out photos and made a poster with Malte to make our work transparent to the parents. The photos will also go into the children’s portfolios later, not only of this excursion, but of our entire project. This way they can document and show what they have achieved or experienced.
Malte was allowed to choose the photos for the poster and stick them on, then he wrote little texts for several pictures, for example „This is the rubbish grabber“. He likes to write himself and I told him the letters or, if he didn’t know them, prescribed them and he copied them down. When it became too tiring for him, I wrote his comments and he glued them to the matching picture. He was proud to be able to write so well already. And he could remember an amazing amount of detail, especially technical terms, like the rubbish grab.